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Armed citizen intervenes, stops fleeing motorist.

Shyla Aston, age four, of Mishawaka, Indiana, is dead. Her six-year-old sister Shianna remains in critical condition. But because an armed citizen chose to act, the driver responsible will face an investigation and whatever justice requires.

It was about 7 p.m. on May 7 when the two little girls, walking hand in hand, tried to cross a street to go to a friend's house to play. They stopped at the street's edge and looked both ways before crossing, but they apparently misjudged the speed of an approaching car and were run over. WNDU TV 16 reporter Stephanie Stang interviewed witnesses who insist that speed was a factor. Witnesses indicated that the car was traveling at least an estimated 40 miles per hour on a street posted at 30 mph.

Nate Sappington, a neighbor, commented on what happened: "I actually just saw the impact and I knew something bad happened and it just turned my stomach." It was a particularly heart-wrenching scene, with the two sisters' twisted bodies motionless in the road and their mother fainting in horror.

The driver had no plans to stick around and face either the carnage he wrought or any penalties: 56-year-old Leroy Hoover hit the gas as soon as the girls were behind him. And he might have gotten away if it weren't for Alan Knepp. Knepp told what happened next: "He [Hoover] hit the gas and was attempting to flee the scene and that's when I jumped out in front and stopped him at gunpoint, took his keys from him, and told him he wasn't going anywhere." The driver stopped, and lamely complained that "the girls had jumped out in front of him," according to Knepp.

The two girls were transported immediately to South Bend Memorial Hospital. Surgery was performed on Shianna; Shyla was flown to Indianapolis' Riley Hospital for Children, where she later died. reported that Hoover faces an investigation by the Fatal Alcohol Crash Team. Knepp has a permit to carry his gun and keeps it with him always. Our thanks to Knepp, and our sincere condolences to the parents.

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Author:Scholl, Alan
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1U3WI
Date:Jun 8, 2009
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